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UNH Survey Center continues partnership with CNN to conduct polls of New Hampshire voters for upcoming primary

CNN has released several polls in collaboration with UNH, a common but little known occurrence that happens every election season.
New Hampshire voters voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential election, and a UNH and CNN poll indicates that the same may be true in 2024. Photo courtesy of The New Hampshire (TNH) staff.

In a poll released by CNN (Cable News Network) and the University of New Hampshire (UNH), New Hampshire voters expressed disappointment in both President Biden and former President Trump for the upcoming 2024 election. This is not the first poll the university has published in conjunction with a major news organization, especially CNN, and it will likely not be the last. 

Dr. Andrew Smith, a political studies professor and the director of the UNH Survey Center, has been working together this season with Jennifer Agiesta and Ariel Edwards-Levi of CNN to cover polling of New Hampshire politics. 

The partnership is of equal importance to both parties. CNN pays for the poll and has input on certain questions they want asked, while UNH handles the outreach. While CNN has the audience, the university has the people most important at the ready: the voters. The Granite State Panel is “a probability-based web panel of New Hampshire residents… recruited from phone, text-to-web, or mail-to-mail surveys sent to randomly-selected phone numbers or addresses,” as stated in the introduction to the poll. It is made up of approximately 6,500 residents in the state. 

Dr. Smith stated that one of the reasons CNN enlists the help of the university is thanks to its inherent knowledge of the state election. They trust the university to know the right questions to ask and the ways to ask them. 

“We frankly don’t tell people that it’s CNN,” said Smith. “We don’t want people participating or not participating because they like or dislike CNN.” 

CNN is not the only news organization that the university has worked with in the past. According to Dr. Smith, in one election season the university had worked with Fox, WMUR and CNN all at once.

Dr. Smith says that polling is a major form of marketing for universities, and that especially when election season comes around major schools often take advantage of the opportunity to get more coverage through using their polling with major and local news organizations. 

“During the primary years, the Survey Center has historically gotten more visibility, more media hits than any other part of the university. In some years, more than the rest of the university combined, even the sports areas,” said Dr. Smith. 

Dr. Smith also said that because of the nature of the surveys, it takes a team of people behind the write-ups, the administration, and the publication of the surveys to make sure they are published as accurately and as timely as possible. He said that despite what people say about biases, CNN has been a good organization to work with. 

“It’s been a valuable partnership over the years,” he said. “We’ve got a tremendous visibility for the university and the work that we do.”

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